Support for student wellbeing initiative

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Community . . . University of Otago students at Fluro Friday, an event which tackles mental health issues with a recipe of saltwater therapy, surfing, yoga and fluro. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

The Ministry of Education has backed a University of Otago initiative aimed at improving students’ mental health and wellbeing.

The programme, Silverline, has received $52,772 from the ministry’s International Student Wellbeing Strategy, which also funded nine other programmes around the country.

The theme of the funding round was international student mental health and/or safety.

Silverline is a student-led programme which challenges how people engage with mental health and wellbeing.

University of Otago volunteer centre manager Sze-En Watts it was “hugely affirming” to “be trusted to apply the Silverline treatment to international student wellbeing”.

The funding would be put towards wellbeing resources specific to the international student experience, some experiential wellbeing excursions and another festival.

“Students’ experiences vary hugely and even more so for our international students who face challenges that might be heightened by the fact they are far from friends and family, from a different culture, speak a different language or face difficult social and familial pressures.”

Silverline was initially intended to be one semester, but took on a “life of its own”.

Students wanted to engage with challenging issues around mental health and wellbeing, but not necessarily in the ways that were offered to them.

“Silverline is propelled by students who want to take over the silence and stigma that exists around mental health and wellbeing in ways that make sense to them.

“It is as much a movement as it is a community.”

The International Student Wellbeing Strategy is designed to protect and enhance New Zealand’s reputation as a safe and welcoming study destination.